MLB Trade Rumors on what might be the denouement of Pigpen (in Arizona, anyway):
- Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune suspects that the Diamondbacks will consider cutting ties with Eric Byrnes this offseason and would be willing to eat the final year of his three-year, $30MM contract.
Arizona's outfield is set for 2010, and it doesn't include the injury-plagued Byrnes. Conor Jackson will start in left field, Chris Young is expected to start in center and Justin Upton will play right. Gerardo Parra, after a fine rookie campaign in 2009, will operate as the fourth outfielder but should find regular playing time.
Repeat after me: sunk cost ... sunk cost ... sunk cost ...
Look, I've spent the last couple of seasons making great sport of Byrnes' three-year, $30 million contract. I didn't like it when he signed it, because he was a left fielder with league-average hitting stats and the Diamondbacks didn't have room for both Byrnes and Carlos Quentin in the lineup.
Of course the contract looked truly awful last year, when Byrnes was awful and Quentin drove in 100 runs with the White Sox. It continued to look awful this season, even though Quentin has massively regressed, because Byrnes has somehow managed to play even worst this year than last year.
But looking back at it, the contract really wasn't crazy. Because Byrnes had been such a fine baserunner and outfielder, his hitting stats hadn't told the whole story. While $30 million might have been a bit much, considering Byrnes' age, it was not outrageous. The Diamondbacks might reasonably have expected $25 million of performance, and another $5 million of goodwill (Byrnes is a popular guy in the Valley of the Sun).
It just hasn't worked out, is all. Byrnes is one of those kamikaze ballplayers, and sometimes those guys get hurt and just don't enjoy the fruits of their physical talents for as long as they might otherwise. Byrnes is only 33 and he was a real good player not so long ago, so usually we'd be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt ... except he's been so useless (sorry) for two full seasons now. At this point the money is irrelevant (sunk cost), but if the club doesn't have room for Byrnes as their fourth outfielder, there's little reason to keep him around.